When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.
Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace
I love this Margaret Atwood quote that Brené uses to start chapter five of Rising Strong. Because this is starting to get real now, and deep, and I feel like I have two choices. I can read this book as a theory book. Saying to myself “Oh, so this is the theory of rising strong, and one day (if I need it) I will grab that book off my shelf and use it”. Or I can say “this is a real process that I go through on a weekly, monthly or even daily basis and I need to get these processes ingrained in me”.
It is easy to just read about owning your story, and reckoning with your emotion, and challenging your go-to narratives. But real life is more like being as Atwood says “a house in a whirlwind”. The reality is that in the midst of pain and heartache, it is easier to just say, “I rather stay numb. I’d rather not think about where I am placing blame. I’d rather not face that grief, that searing pain. I’d rather not forgive. I’d rather not have that hard conversation.”
That is reality. And no book, no matter how inspirational, is ever going to change that if we leave it as just theory. Therefore the rumble means we have to take action. And that takes enormous courage. It takes time to sit with your emotions, uncomfortable and uncertain as they might be. It takes questioning, and looking deep within yourself for answers, and resting in the process when they don’t appear immediately. It takes time and it takes trust.
As a writer and a long-time journaller I love that Brené advocates the writing down of the first story (or SFD) as a way to process emotion. For me this is natural, it is long how I have done it. It doesn’t mean it is easy though. When there is a particularly thorny issue or deep seated hurt, then I often find myself refusing to write. Because “I don’t want to go there”. And sometimes it takes many many journal entires to process exactly what I am feeling.
So I want to set a different sort of book club question today. Mainly because personally I feel like I need to move this from a “that’d be useful” theory book to a book that has real practical application.
Whether you are a writer or not, I wondered if you would join me in using Brené’s ideas of writing a SFD about a recent encounter that caused one of your “go-to stories” to arise. As Brené suggests don’t edit, just write, ask yourself questions, use the template on page 86. Work through your emotions on paper. Just personal you and the page. We don’t need you to share it with anyone.
Then come back here and in the comments section let us know whether the process was useful, if so how it helped, if not where you got stuck.
Let’s try and take this from theory to practice together,
PS – the link to all the posts so far is here